I get this question a lot: how you make a house feel like a home? Especially during the holidays. If you’re a member of our Christmas Prep Club you may have watched me discuss this with my mother during the IGTV we filmed together. I don’t remember the exact decorations, or every single gift I received. What I do remember is how my childhood house truly felt like home, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I have taken much of what I learned from my mother to try to recreate that same feeling for my children – and guests! I want to share five of those easy things in today’s post.
1. Have a welcoming front porch!
Let friends and family know they’re welcome before they step foot in the door. A swept front porch, a happy wreath or door mat. Even front porch lighting so guests can find their way in the evening. Little details can do so much!
2. Create a cozy atmosphere with lovely scents.
Scents and smells are powerful when it comes making memories and making people feel all warm and cozy inside. For Thanksgiving that memory is often baking — the smell of pumpkin pie right out of the oven, or a turkey roasting. If you aren’t a big baker or cook, that’s okay! There are so many pre-made options that you can pop in the oven. I always pop in Festive Kitchen in Dallas to stock up on frozen cookie dough and hor d’oeuvres I can stick in the oven last minute. For Christmas, I love to incorporate fresh pine wreaths and garland into my decor. You can even stick fresh pine sprigs in your faux wreaths and garland to give them more life. Or, if you’re like me and love holiday candles, find one you really love (this NEST Holiday candle is a personal favorite) and burn every year during the holidays.
3. Stock a bountiful kitchen.
Food is comforting, and a blessing to those who didn’t have to prepare or buy it! You don’t have to be a fabulous cook to have a bountiful kitchen. A stocked pantry during Christmas break lets children and guests know you have thoughtfully prepared for them. I also like to have things I can easily pull out to provide sustenance to loved ones at the last minute. My mom makes salted pecans, but you could also order Killer Pecans to put out when neighbors pop over. A cheese board is one of the easiest things to put together at the last-minute, especially if you go ahead and stock up on cheeses and crackers, cornichons, dried fruit, spiced pecans and nuts now (love Trader Joe’s for all of this!). One of my go-to (easy!) holiday apps is warmed brie topped with warmed fig jam. Divine!
4. Tidy with love.
No one expects perfection, but showing care and preparation before guests arrive is a very thoughtful gesture. Start thinking now about if you need to make room in the coat closet for holiday gatherings, freshen up your powder bath hand towels (so many cute ones on our Hostess Gift Guide!), or perhaps you need fresh linens for your guest room. If you’re going to have family staying with you, add a few magazines or books to your guest bedroom for them to read at night. Little details mean so much and go a long way to make someone feel comfortable when they’re in your home. Helpful tip: Consider making a checklist on your phone for things to do before guests arrive — this will keep you from scrambling at the last minute!
5. Be gracious with words and actions.
I once had a reader tell me that she had negative feelings associated with the holidays because her mom was always so stressed out. It really stuck with me! If we are constantly stressed or snippy during the holidays people will be drawn away, not toward, our homes. The art of letting the little things go is a hard one to master but it’s so important during the holidays when there is so much going on. That’s why there is wisdom in planning for the holiday season so that we can be joyfully present with our families and guests.
We’ll be sharing more tips as we head into the holiday season. At the end of the day, we all want to create special memories for our families and friends — and so many of those start at home. Hopefully these tips will help you prepare for all of the hosting and holidays coming up!
Floral arrangement from Claire Rathbun.